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10 Absolute MX Practice Tips by Gary Semics
Here are last 9 tips that have appeared in previous issues of the ThumperTalk Member eNewsletter. Number 10 will be listed in the January newsletter and finally posted here thereafter.
10 Absolute MX Practice Rules by Gary Semics ( http://www.gsmxs.com
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In order to improve your race results, you first must improve your practice strategies. Then practice the correct techniques until they become automatic.
Absolute rule number 1 - There’s a mind to the madness. When you go out to practice have a purpose behind your practice. Don’t just race around the track, making the same mistakes over and over. Always spend some time separating and working at your weak points and techniques.
Now that we’ve got that right, here’s tip number one of a ten quick tips series on how to become a better racer.
#1 You need to be able to work the levers and hold onto the grips independently.
The most common mistake here is to hold onto the grips with all four fingers than grab at the levers only when you really have to use them. This way is so award that the rider doesn’t use the clutch and front brake levers often enough and when they do use the levers they can't hold onto the grips well.
The thing that takes time and practice to develop is the ability to hold onto the grips and work the levers accurately at the same time, many riders use two fingers on the clutch, and many use one finger. It's best to use one finger on the front brake. Get used to it and make it a habit.Give up a finger or two on the grips in order to work the levers independently from holding onto the grips.
#2 When you're not using the shifter or brake the ball of your foot should be on the foot peg.
A general rule to go by is that if you’re not using the shifter or brake you should be on the balls of your feet. When you need to use the shifter or brake simply move up to the arches of your feet, than when you’re not using the shifter or brake move back to the balls of your feet again. While you are riding you should be using this technique frequently changing back and forth. This is true whether sitting or standing.
The benefits are: it adds another joint to your body's suspension (your ankle joint) for better movement and feel, your feet won't hit the ground in ruts and get ripped off the foot pegs, and you won't hit the shifter or brake by accident. The only exception to this technique is if you are going to land very hard (like casing a jump) then you should be on the arches of your feet so you don’t sprain or break your ankles. This is defiantly one of those techniques that you have to think about and practice separately. Keep checking the bottom of those boots.
#3 Dragging the rear brake will keep the rear wheel from kicking up as much on certain bumps and obstacles.
When a beginner rider gets into trouble, like having the rear wheel kick up too high, he usually just freezes and waits to see what happens. One thing you can do to avoid this kicking up affect is to drag the rear brake when you think the rear wheel is going to kick up. This helps hold the rear suspension together and greatly reduces the kick up of the rear wheel.
The next time you see that you’re going to hit a big bump or a whoop harder than you wanted to, touch or drag that rear brake and you'll see how much it holds the rear end down. This is another good reason you need to be able to use the rear brake from any body position on the motorcycle, because in this case, you will be standing with your weight back.
#4 You do not need to use the clutch when you down shift.
Some inexperienced riders use the clutch to downshift and then just hold it in while they brake the rest of the way into the corner. Using the clutch to downshift is not necessary and it brakes up the steadiness of braking with the help of the engine's backpressure.
It is necessary to use the clutch when you up shift because the transmission has torque on the gears from the power of the engine. But, there is very little torque on the gears when the throttle is off and you’re slowing down. So, leave that low end lever (the clutch) out when you’re down shifting and braking for a corner.
#5 Overgrip and elbow position. Keep your elbows up and out away from your sides.
A rider is giving up a lot of control if he or she has a style of grabbing the grips straight on and riding with their forearms parallel to the ground. By doing this they don't have the correct leverage factors between their upper body and the motorcycle. It's also more difficult to open the throttle.
High over grip and high elbows will enable the rider to have full range of the throttle through their full range of body positions on the motorcycle. This technique also gives you the correct leverage factors between your body and the motorcycle through your full range of movement.
#6 Body position for accelerating and braking.
Most of the time when you accelerate you keep your weight forward and when you brake you keep your weight back. When you fail to do this technique correctly you end up with your body weight in the wrong place at the wrong time. This can cause you to be out of control and be working a lot harder than you need to.
Most of the time when you accelerate you need to lean forward into the force of acceleration and when you brake you need to lean back against the force of braking. This allows your body position to maintain the center of balance. The motorcycle and you become one operating unit and you can better maintain control. Don't be a statue. Get used to moving on that motorcycle.
# 7 What to do with your inside foot in a corner.
Put your inside foot out for the part of the turn where you’re going from braking to accelerating (exit dex) and get it back on the footpeg as soon as possible. The common mistake here is to put your foot out for the turn too early. Many riders do this to help them with balance. They are making the mistake of using their leg as a counter balance. Then after they make the corner they keep their foot off the peg too long. This allows most all of their weight to be on the seat, which makes those accelerating bumps beat their ass.
The correct way is to put your foot out for the least amount of time as possible. This is in the part of the turn where you’re going from braking to accelerating. I call this the exit dex. Keep your weight low, on the footpegs, and use the controls and your upper body movements for balance and control.
#8 The rowing movement.
Time the rowing action of your body movement with the compression and rebound of bumps and other obstacles on the track. You need to row back as the rear wheel tries to kick up.
Many riders just ride the motorcycle across rough ground or whoops and never try to time how they weight and unweight the suspension. Then the motorcycle ends up weighting and unweight their bodies with a mind of it's own. This technique requires good timing and anticipation. You have to anticipate where you’re going to weight and unweight (to help the suspension compress and rebound) the motorcycle in order to make it compress, skip, jump, fly, and land just how and where you want it to. This is not just a straight up and down movement. While you’re helping the suspension compress down and rebound up you have to move back and forth in order to keep the motorcycle somewhat level. Learn to do this right, because I guarantee you, it will feel good and you'll live longer.
#9 How far to look ahead.
Look far enough out ahead of you to be ready for what's coming up. If you can't see it (because of an obstacle) remember what's there. The most common mistake is to always look too close in front of you and not look ahead far and soon enough. Don't race the track by every ten feet. Race it one section at a time and blend the sections together with a purpose. When done correctly it's an art form and when you go beyond that, it's magic.
Your vision should always be scanning the track in front of you, focusing on the most important things, then scanning and focusing on the next most important thing, and so on. You should ride with this main focus and your peripheral vision. Set yourself up so you’re going to be on the right line well in advance. And if you’re trying to past someone, look beyond them, not at them. You can't win races by following people.
#10 The front brake and bermed (rutted) corners.
When feathering the front brake while going into a corner, it will not only slow the m/c down, but also, hold the front wheel in the berm and make the m/c turn sharper. The common mistake here is to let go of the front brake too soon. The rider thinks he is slowed down enough for the berm so he releases the front brake. At this time there’s a good chance for the front wheel to go over the berm.
A pro will keep his finger on the front brake until he opens the throttle. Then he will automatically let go of the front brake. This means he has the ability to feather the front brake until he is ready to exit the berm hard. When you’re leaning over in a berm and you apply the front brake it shortens the steering angle, slows the m/c down, and makes it turn sharper. The benefit is that you can come into the berms faster and still stay in the berm. Learn to feather that front brake and throttle together through the exit dex in bermed corners and you will never come out of a berm again.